According to local media reports, First Lady Fatima Bio is championing the crusade which will involve a conference on World Cancer Day on February 4 and nationwide town hall meetings.
Mrs Bio earlier in the week hosted a press conference where she outlined her plans to fight for cancer patients and survivors, and expressed her determine to raise awareness to prevent the disease. She urged the media to help in raising awareness against the disease that
experts say is largely fueled by lifestyle. Cancer refers to a group of diseases that result from abnormal growth of body cells. There are various causative factors, including lifestyle, chemicals and radiation. According to the United Nations, at least 2000 people die of cancer diseases in Sierra Leone annually.
This is largely due to the fact that the country lacks the requisite infrastructure to provide services to patient. The extremely low level of awareness of prevention and timely treatment also contribute to it. It costs fortune for cancer sufferers in Sierra Leone to get treatment because they have to travel overseas, mainly to Ghana. Some estimates indicate that it cost at least US$15, 000 to get treatment in Ghana.
A few patient go as far as India, which cost more. “Such a situation should not be tolerated,” Mrs Bio was quoted lamenting. Sierra Leone will join the rest of the world to commemorate World
Cancer Day on February 4, under the theme: ‘I am and I will’. A ceremony has been scheduled for the Bintumani Conference Hall in Freetown. According to the Office of the First Lady, there will be a
sensitization tour of the entire country to raise awareness about cancer and how early treatment can reduce the risk of death.
“Many people do not know about the disease or its causes and symptoms…This is an opportunity for us to bring the attention of the government to the plight of the people to cancer,” said Mrs Bio.